A partnership to support public programs in Athens, Greece
By Megan Sheekey
This week Mayor Giorgos Kaminis announced the creation of the Athens Partnership, a nonprofit vehicle established with guidance from Bloomberg Associates. The mission of the Athens Partnership is to facilitate public-private partnerships, supporting priority public programs in Athens, Greece. This uniquely positioned entity will intersect between city government and the private sector, leveraging the resources and strengths of both. It will allow the city, with philanthropic support, to address pressing needs and pilot new programs while evaluating their outcomes and merit for future investment.
As the migrant crisis and economic instability in Greece continue to deeply affect Athens residents, the Partnership will be one tool to help the city remain responsive and moving forward. Bloomberg Associates is honored to count Athens among its client cities.
Op-ed by Athens Mayor George Kaminis in the newspaper “Kathimerini Tis Kiriakis”
A Mayor who wishes to do his job properly in today’s Greece must always find a balance among four basic priorities. Firstly, he must ensure the daily operation of his city. Secondly, he must respond to the social needs constantly generated by the current economic crisis (soup kitchens, homeless shelters, distribution of primary need goods, social tutoring classes, etc.). Thirdly, he must react fast to the, special or by now usual, political uproars we have been experiencing in recent years (political violence, long term strikes, occupation of public buildings, extended delinquency etc.). Fourthly, in several cities, as for example Athens, the mayor is now required to deal also with the multiple consequences of the refugee/immigration issue threatening to deconstruct an entire society, the strengths of which are tested and have reached their limit in the last six years.
One would say that all of this constitutes a multifaceted reality, which every mayor acting under similar conditions is compelled to deal with. In some way, this chronic and multifaceted crisis that our country is going through has formulated a “normality” of its own, an explosive mixture of daily life and special circumstances, where the latter are clearly dominating, since daily life in our days obeys to no normal routine. The drastic reduction in resources, both in manpower and materials, along with a number of other factors have made extremely and unimaginably difficult the effort of a mayor to even accomplish elementary duties such as, e.g., sanitation.
It is not enough though to just keep our head above water. We must also have our eyes focused deep in the horizon. Our cities, especially the major ones, and Athens mainly, have eventually taken over the duty to prepare the country for the post-crisis times. What the central government has failed to realize for several years now is that there are actually municipalities that are innovative. This is what we’ve been doing for so long in Athens.
At the same time that we are dealing with the problems of today being absolutely focused on our job, we are also obligated to prepare for tomorrow, raising the bar to the height it should be as if everything around us was going well. We are constantly seeking new modes of action, with a stable outward orientation, in Greece as well as abroad. In Athens especially we have broadened the range of collaboration of the City, forming partnerships with all of the reliable agencies of the city: businesses, public organizations, professional and commercial chambers, universities, private sponsors and, certainly the active citizens of the Society of Citizens.
Today we are taking a step further. We created the Partnership for Athens or Athens Partnership, a non-profit organization promoting targeted synergies of the municipality with the private sector.
With the Athens Partnership we support infrastructure projects, but also initiatives to reinforce the social cohesion and economic development and by and large the improvement of the quality of life in the city. The Partnership is seeking to attract donations from foundations, businesses and private sponsors, among which of course are the Greeks Abroad. The organization and operation of the Partnership shall obey the most updated principles of accountability, transparency and effectiveness, with emphasis on the funding of innovative and pilot programs, which shall not only benefit the city but also the municipality through the transfer of modern know how. As an independent organization operating between the municipality of Athens and the private sector, the Athens Partnership combines the forces of both, with the final beneficiary being the resident of our city.
The Athens Partnership is following the tradition of successful prototypes that have been operating efficiently for several years in major cities abroad such as London, New York, Los Angeles, and Melbourne; they also have non-profit organizations cooperating creatively with the municipalities in vitally important sectors, like fighting poverty, dealing with crises and sustainable development.
The municipal authority of our city and myself, personally would like to extent our heartfelt thanks to all the private citizens and organizations in Greece and abroad that have supported at times the capital with donations and sponsorships. With the Athens Partnership we are capitalizing on the experience we have acquired and upgrading the quality of our cooperation with all those who are intended to help us in this difficult task that we have undertaken: to keep our city standing and methodically prepare it for the future.